This post is really directed towards those of us here who are the ADHD spouse (versus the non ADHD spouse - but please feel free to chime in too!).
I have been thinking about my relationship with my H. It used to be we were the best of friends. And somehow, quite suddenly, it went from that super hyperfocus attention, to - NOTHING - all when everything became "real". Fast forward several years... years of unhappiness for both of us, struggles, lies, abandonment etc - and I have come to some conclusions and would like some input. My H views me as his enemy. I have never done anything to deserve this - in fact, most of the time I have been a door mat for him (which is WAY out of my own character). He acts like everything I do and say is some secret way to control him - which is so rediculous I would laugh for days if it didnt actually cause me so much heartache and pain. I have gone out of my way, and gone further to help him and support him in everything he does and to be VERY open and honest, so that there is no threat of control, no threat of manipulation. (The last thing I want is to be with anyone who doesnt want to be with me OF THEIR OWN ACCORD). I have let him decide his own tasks and let him define my role in supporting him in those tasks. For instance, he will create a goal to do task A, and ask me to help him remember to DO task A at a certain time. So I do that - and it becomes me controlling him - by doing as he asked me to do.
I have noticed that the spouses that come here with ADHD tend to focus on the negatives of their wives and husbands, and to *me* always seem so combative to their spouses. Why is that? What is it about that relationship that causes you to think of them as the enemy? Why do you feel that need to consider everything they do as an attack upon you? It could be that i am reading things wrong, but that is the impression that I have gotten. And it certainly lines up with my own experience with my H who acts like I am enemy #1. I suspect he has some major issues with anger transference - targeting me - from his history of abuse as a child. He almost *always* disagrees with me. I could say the sky is so blue today, and he would say that he didnt think so that it looked brown from smog etc. I have lived in the area we moved to for a good portion of my life and KNOW the shortcuts and distances, he has never lived here. When he will ask for a good route from point A to B - I will tell it to him, and he is sure to say that "Well google maps says it should take this long and you should take this route". Which would be fine occasionally - but its EVER TIME. I have gotten to the point that I do not talk to him, I do not even help him when he asks on things like that - I tell him to google it. It was so bad, that the only way he could agree with something I said was if SOMEONE ELSE would say it and agree.
What inside of you triggers this do you think? I am not looking to blame or criticise, I am seriously wondering what it is that gets your hackles up? I suspect your spouses feel like me and have started just to shut down because its not "safe" or pleasent to even try to have conversations (again, I only get this sense from the posts on here - so take that for what it is).
It bothers me intensely - probably because I do work so hard to *not* control or manipulate him. I have from day one wanted a real, true, honest relationship with him - not one that was a game. I feel like a used dog toy and i have done nothing to deserve it. His excuse is that "he is broken" - but he is clearly ok with it since he doesnt bother to get any help. And the more that I thought about it, the more I realized that he has been doing to me - everything that he accuses me of. He treats me like crap because he thinks I am going to leave him, so he just picks up and runs at the first hint of any issues. He tells me that he cannot be in a relationship where his partner wants to break up everytime they fight - but that is PRECISELY what he does to me. He says he cant deal with threats, but he threatens me all the time - "I only want to be married when I am in a good mood, so I havent decided if I am going to stay or not", all the while happy to have the BENEFITS of being married...He doesnt bother to eat a diet that is helpful to his ADHD tendencies, he doesnt exercise to deal with some of that aggression - both things that are essentially easy to do and you dont have to see a doc to do it. All of this seems to fuel this... well I guess hatred towards me. I dont deserve it, I have never done anything to deserve this treatment. And I am tired of the "blame my abuse" (fine get HELP to move through it) "blame my brokenness" (fine, get HELP - you are NOT broken, quit listening to the people who abused you - they live in your head and you wont kick them out).
I certainly have found a new rage, and I am not burying it like I used to - I am letting it grow and fill me up. I am letting it remind me of WHO I AM. But I really want to understand WHY.
Anyway - I hope that you will respond. I am moving forward and onward, but I just need to understand.
At what point in your mind did your spouse become a sparring partner versus a love partner? I know this is probably a hard question but I am hoping to get some input that can help me understand it better. Post mortem therapy I suppose?
Submitted by Exasperated on
I am the non ADD spouse and I can totally relate to what you've described here. It seems as though my husband and I have always been in competition with each other, rather than on the same side of anything. I find that I can't express any of my own thoughts, or share something I've read or heard with him without him being cynical or skeptical of whatever it is. Everything is challenged. Everything becomes a debate, and it's extremely wearisome. Yet, as you said, he accuses ME of debating, and says he wants none of that.
He also acts like we are enemies, especially if my family is around. He views everything as him against us and us against him.
I think that people with ADD have a strong sense if inadequacy which puts them on the defensive. They ASSUME that others see them as inadequate, so they have a chip on their shoulder. I have also gotten the sense that my husband has a strong need to control his environment, since he has difficulty adapting, or confirming to the mainstream way of thinking or doing things. So, since he HAS to be in control, he is extremely sensitive to feeling controlled by others. He WILL NOT be controlled. He's the one who seizes control, yet in his mind everyone ELSE is a control freak, everyone ELSE is selfish, everyone else is guiltyof the very things he is guilty of.
He swears he's not a manipulator, but he has been manipulating me since before we were married. And I have been the worst kind of enabler. I have always caved to HIS control, because I hate always being made to feel guilty, and I hate the unpleasantness of his moods and his anger when he doesn't get his way. He has to defend his turf, because that's where he feels comfortable.
Like your husband, mine is also quite paranoid, always thinking that I am going to leave him. In his desperation brought about by feeling inadequate, he thinks he has to belittle me and heap blame on me for all of our problems to make himself not feel so bad. But all that does is alienate me.
My husband's ADD is not treated, so I do not believe he is able to see himself. I wish he would get help so that he can finally get some clarity and some relief from the problems associated with his condition.
I am super curious to see the
Submitted by dvance on
I am super curious to see the ADHD response to this post. I have the same issues with my DH. He has ADHD, not on any meds, not exercising, stays up late. I do not have ADHD but I have the anxiety that comes from living with it. I too now say nothing when asked what is the best way/plan/whatever to do something because what I say won't be right. DH always has a better/quicker/easier/alternative way to do something that in actual reality makes the original task take longer or be more involved. You know what? I no longer care. I too have been called controlling more times than I care to count. If I ask too many questions I am interrogating him. So I mostly keep quiet. Even when I know the answer to something I say nothing. Let him figure it out. Keeping quiet, unfortunately, has come back to bite me in the butt because then I get "why didn't you tell me if you knew". So I cannot win. Tell him what to do = controlling, don't tell = undermining and not helpful. It just depends on what I wish to be the bad guy for at any given moment.
I cannot fully articulate just how hard I have worked in the past two years to train myself to genuinely NOT CARE what he does or what he thinks. An example from yesterday--a piece of mail came addressed to him, but I vaguely recognized the return address and thought it was a bill from our pediatrician which would end up by me anyway so I opened it. Fortunately it had an easy to stick back down flap because it was a bill from his counselor who he hasn't seen in easily two years for almost $3000 that he has never attempted to make payments on. The note attached to it said that they were willing to accept the $300 a month he promised them to pay this off. Now, where he thinks we are going to get $300 a month is a mystery to me, but whatever. I resealed the envelop and put it on his desk. It's gone today and when I asked him what it was he said he didn't know he hadn't opened it yet. How bizarre is that? Who doesn't open their mail? BUT...I will put it out of my mind. Not my problem. I will not bring it up again. Train yourself to not care. So much easier.
Submitted by SpaceyStacey197... on
soon enough it won't matter if I care of don't care. I know for a fact he never did. We had a "talk" today after he noticed I was upset. The reason I was upset was because when I walked up to my computer desk to grab my phone, he was watching some video with skimpy dressed young girls for world of Warcraft of all things. It was a double sucker punch to me. To hell with him. He had the nerve to interrogate me about being mad when I told him nothing and not to worry because it "no longer matters since he is leaving anyway". This brought up all of the pain. I word vomited all over the place about how I am done with the charade, I am done with all of it, that he didn't even care enough about me or our marriage to even TRY.
He he had the gall to try and tell me that he "had been trying, but had come to the conclusion that it wasn't going to work." I lost my shit. How freaking DARE him tell me that HE was trying. I asked him Which of the many books he has that he read, when was the last time he called his. Therapist etc.. Such bullshit. He didn't try, he made up his mind and then told himself he was being civil to me. There is a lot. Ore to this... Right now I a still just amazed at the nerve. How dare him look me in the eye and say he "tried". Whatever. He can go find what ever life he wants, hiding from his past and pretending he is a functioning adult.
he is 43 years old. How dare him. How fucking dare him. He doesn't know what trying even is. Maybe he pondered it for a few minutes between youtube videos about video games, movies and facebook while lounging on the deck smoking. Golly gee... That sure is a lot of effort for the single most important relationship a person can have.
I put in 7 years of work. I read the books, the articles, got help for my own issues, went to therapy, did the work there, supported us, forgave him over and over, accepted the limitations etc. NO MORE. If he wants to live a life tithed up by chains he himself created more power to him. His life. But I will not watch him do it. And I will not let him drag me down in it either. Once my dog passes from this world he can go find his true happiness elsewhere with all the things that matter to him. His phone, his computer, his video games and I am sure he will bring back his porn.
So I actually have made a
Submitted by SpaceyStacey197... on
So I actually have made a mistake. While it doenst change anything else, the reason I was upset In The first place ... I was wrong. The video he was watching was not wh at I thought. It was an expose about serious problems in the game with people doing bad things, and I just happened to walk up behind him to get my phone at literally the worst possible time in the vid, which made it look all out of context on top of the quick glance I saw at the wording.
The rest... Yeah that's on still the same, but I owe him an apology, a sincere one, and will give it to him when he gets home from his walk.
Avoidance and Overwhelm
Submitted by kellyj on
I repeat....avoidance and overwhelm. Actually....reverse that....overwhelm...then avoidance.
Too much of anything...and feeling out of control. Overwhelm
The response: look away at what is too much to deal with because it's too painful or too much to handle or both emotionally, logistically, financially or all the above. Avoid it and put your head in the sand you you don't have to look at it and maybe...it will just all go away. That's not really what you think....but subconsciously...this is what happens. It's self protection from anything more than your limit of control.
Over the limit..and you're out of control and then you look away from it. Avoidance behavior...somewhat like denial on a physical level when it comes to finances or even you (the spouse) when emotions are out of control and you the spouse are seen as a possible threat or cause of this.
Could be likened to addictions in order to keep doing it. Could be likened to a shop- a-holic so they can keep spending money and buy new things even thought they're going bankrupt because of it. Could be likened to having ADHD but not wanting to go to therapy and get help even if you know you have it.It can be overwhelming.
I just went through this in a way with my wife and our situation but I was not looking away or trying to avoid it. I hit my overwhelm point a while ago...but I still kept doing it at a pace that was not possible to do in order to try and keep the peace. This or course...did not work.
In our case...my wife's expectations exceeded what was possible...but couldn't understand why it wasn't getting done. She was looking at what was wrong and wanting the results....but not looking at what was right and all the work I was getting done. She was looking away from the progress and the positives...and only could see or was looking for what was wrong. What was wrong was not going away each time she saw it...which meant....nothing was happening? It's a kind of blindness or short sightedness.
Approaching my wife as an ADHD person now and feeling better about just seeing her that way only after a few days now. As I'm saying this....lets just assume so for now without a full evaluation.
She sees the negative in everything first and the positives second. Problem solving is done from the top down instead of the bottom up (if I have that right?)
For example. Looking for a place to go and visit or travel too.
Her approach. Can't go here because.....Can't go here because.....Can't go here because...Can't go here because....well .....we can't can't go anywhere....there's something wrong every where we want to go. Lets just stay home then and do nothing. No choices to pick from because every where we want to go there's something wrong?
All negative things because those are first and only thing she see's. The positive things never get mentioned or seen because she didn't even get to a place that there wasn't something wrong in the first place. She is blind to the positives.
My approach. We can go here because....We can go here because.... We can go here because...We can go here because.....
All positive things and the sky is the limit in place to go....100's or options...100's of places to go. We couldn't even begin to pick how many good places to go with so many choices. Like a Chinese menu with 100 offerings on the list and you don't even know where to start of pick just to pick one since you can only eat one at a time yet...mostly....they're all good. It's overwhelming to think about is all so good. This will take some time to figure out and choose.mmmmm????
Oh wait....this one place I want to go has this one thing I don't like...Okay....we'll pick another one that doesn't have that one thing in it. No big deal. Oops....times up...gotta pick one. Close your eyes and put your finger down and see which one comes up. lol
I'm being facetious about picking a place to go or choosing a dish at a restaurant but in context...I think you get the point. I'm this way with many things and I get easily overwhelmed when I have to much to do or look at all at once. I have to break things down into their smallest components and deal with components..one at a time in order not to get overwhelm too easily. It makes me anxious just thinking about it. lol
But I don't avoid it and look away from it yet...that can be overwhelming in itself sometimes. If it gets too much (anxiety over this process ) and the anxiety gets too bad that I experience....I have to retreat and recover. Retreating is a bit different in that respect because I'm still not avoiding it or looking away from it. Safe harbor as NON was mentioning. That's my pattern.
My wife goes the avoidant route right to begin with...to avoid getting overwhelmed too easily.. she makes sure there's nothing that might overwhelm her in the first place by seeing what is wrong in each case to prevent that from happening but then nothing happens.(self fulfilling prophecy) And if she gets overwhelmed about something....it just disappears and she won't look at it again.
What is right..... vs...... what is wrong. Positive or negative...both can lead to overwhelm in the case of ADHD from this difference I've come to understand.
I did give my wife wife some great compliments
Submitted by [email protected]... on
while I did tend to focus on the negative toward the end of my post, I did say she was my angel, my savior. She helped me in every way possible. I do give her credit but albeit my fault she has all but stopped the support now. She is at her wits end. See my post on Melissa's book backfiring. I did and was trying to change and work and rebuild only to have it thrown in my face.
We just had a long talk and she basically said she is finished. End of line, done. This is where my negativity and anger at my spouse comes from. Others may have different excuses perhaps not quite so deserving.
Sorry you are so upset. I understand, even better now, how easy it is to reach that point with an ADHD spouse.
I hope things get better for you. You do seem very frustrated.
I'm Sorry to Hear This Crayon
Submitted by kellyj on
It's a frustrating situation for both of us. I wish I could offer more than been said already and as the only thing I will say that doing things to work on yourself I think is still the best advise. What NowOrNever recommended pointing to therapy would be my best bet too. Those examples I gave about the differences between my wife and I are only there to serve a point. These times like this we run into are common...almost daily in fact because we approach things so differently. Literally from opposite ends of the spectrum as I was showing. But this is not to say we are opposites in what we want together and that's the main thing. Just understanding these differences has made a world of difference already. I do see her quirks and differences the same as mine. Not who we are....just a product of having a similar disorder the same as you. We are all different even if we share this one thing together.(ADHD) Navigating them without conflict is the goal and being able to articulate it so we can understand each other.
As I have come to understand...there are usually other things involved as well. Minde shows up as OCD tendencies but the source is still ADHD. That just one tendencies I have but these do not show up all the time for different reasons.
What I was just describing this difference in how my wife and I approach things...really has more to do with our relationship styles of attachment. This I learned in therapy and why therapy is such an important step to take. Just knowing these things and learning to understand helps tremendously. This is not so much ADHD related...but related to how everyone has their particular brand of insecurities when they show up.
If you want to do a little research on this yourself....look up Avoidant attachment relationship styles or Attachment Theory it might help you get a better understanding but a good therapist can help sort this out for you better than any other way of learning it. It really took me a long time to understand it let alone apply to myself. I never would have been able to do this without my therapist to guide me through it and help how to apply it to myself or anyone else for that matter. It's a really big topic and not one that is easy to apply.
People with ADHD are shown to have a much higher tendency to have some insecure attachment styles compared to those who don't and it was really good for me to come to this understanding to demystify these things.
I hope things get better for you and possibly your wife might have a change of heart if you two can go together to get some help. If she can see some light and hope for change...that might change her perspective if she knows that something will change for the future. I can only hope so on your behalf.